Two giant broadcast networks dominate the Philippine media industry and have a major influence in shaping public opinion despite the diversity of choices, research on media ownership conducted by nonprofit organizations VERA Files and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) showed.
ABS-CBN2, ABS-CBN Sports and Action, GMA7, and GNTV hold 80.72 percent of television audience. The rest has to compete for the remaining 19.26 percent. GMA Network Inc. and ABS-CBN Corporation own television, radio and online outlets.
The print market is more evenly distributed among players due to the diversity of tabloid and broadsheet titles. According to the Nielsen Consumer and Media View, for the second quarter of 2016, tabloid newspapers are read more compared to broadsheets.
The global project Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) also showed that media in the Philippines are family-owned businesses. Surnames like Lopez, Belmonte, Prieto and Elizalde are dominant in television, print, radio and online.
Also unique in the Philippines are media outlets owned or controlled by religious organizations such as the Radyo Veritas by the Catholic Church and INC TV of Iglesia ni Cristo. Although they are not as dominant, they have established a foothold in the media market.
These are some of the highlights of the three-month research conducted by Reporters without Borders and VERA Files on the Philippine media industry. The findings will go online when the MOM Philippines website is launched on November 17 at Sequioa Hotel in Quezon City.
“Even though there might be little political control being openly exerted over Philippine media right now, the subtle yet strong ties between business interests and political power plays, found in almost all media companies, limit the media’s independence,” said Christian Mihr, executive director of RSF Germany.
“The current legal framework does neither effectively promote transparency in the market nor takes into account conflict of interests hidden in the media’s ownership structure. The Media Ownership Monitor aims to be a starting point for a discussion on more effective, independent media-specific regulation. The Philippine media business community on all levels should work on better mechanisms for media ownership and transparency,” Mihr said.
Following the launch is a panel discussion on “Media Ownership Transparency and Regulation: What’s next?” Romel Bagares will present a paper based on his legal assessment. Panelists are Rigoberto Tiglao, Manila Times columnist and author of the book Colossal Deception; Maria Regina E. Reyes, head of Integrated News and Current Affairs, ABS-CBN Corporation; John Nery, Editor in Chief, INQUIRER.net and Associate Editor, Opinion Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer; and Clarissa David of the Graduate Studies Department, College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines.